Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The person in the mirror

Increasingly in our society, the norm is becoming “instant outrage” in so many situations. They are banning books: people get outraged. They are not banning books: people are outraged. People get outraged because they heard other people are outraged and want to be supportive. If someone else is outraged, they must have a good reason, so getting outraged must be a good thing.
Our country has gone to hell and the politicians in charge are to blame. Everyone tells us that, especially the politicians who used to be in charge. Elections may periodically reverse the roles, but the message remains the same: “everything is the other guy’s fault” and “only we know how to save you.”
Don’t trust what “they” tell you. It is just a conspiracy by (usually) the billionaire oligarchs. Everything is a conspiracy to get us, the sheep, to behave like sheep and follow the oligarch shepherds down whatever yellow brick road they have chosen for us.
The origin of all these scenarios, and a lot of other ones facing us today, is almost universal, and so much closer to home than you think: the person in the mirror.
It is the person in the mirror who is responsible for getting outraged before taking the time to get informed by credible sources. Social media provide fast access to information but seldom validates any of it. You think books should be banned – have you read any of them? Are you outraged over the right thing for good reasons? Have you ever questioned the validity of your sources?
Do the people or services from which you get your information themselves have an agenda?
You say Trudeau has ruined the country. The Liberals will tell you they are still trying to save us from the past and future mistakes of the Conservatives. The ones who believe seem to believe they are the only ones with the answers. You say the political system is corrupt and needs to be changed, but when was the last time the person in your mirror voted? No democratic system is ever going to function “properly” if a large portion of the voting pool doesn’t vote.
Vaccines, the truth of the residential schools, sexual orientation and identity, political leadership or lack thereof – these have been some of the biggest issues over the last couple of years. Have you been motivated by these or any other topics? Were you inspired to outrage or to get the person in the mirror better informed?
Ruben Blades has been credited with the quote “I think we risk becoming the best-informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” Seems to be an apt and accurate assessment. There is so much information being thrown at us, the seeds of truth and accuracy are getting lost in the overabundance of chaff.
For things to get better two things need to happen. The first is that we must accept that everything is not someone else’s fault. We must be accountable. The second is that the person in the mirror must become better informed. We can start by being more empathetic.
We could follow that up with learning to talk to people, not just at them. Listening is a dying art form, take time to listen. And we need to understand that living on a diet of sound bites is not giving us the balanced knowledge nutrition we need.
Get the person in the mirror informed. Make the reflection proud.

Guest editorial by Tom McCann


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